The Old Fashioned is making a comeback. The cocktail seems to be popping up all over bar menus and in the hands of hipsters everywhere- and I love it! A few weeks ago I went to an American whiskey class at The Pastry War put on by a couple of the fine bartenders at Anvil. We tasted several whiskeys and bourbons including two rarer breeds that were amazing-the Colonel E.H. Taylor Single Barrel and the Old Rip Van Winkle 10 year. My favorite findable was Larceny. It was so drinkable and smooth. The boys’ favorite was Balcones Brimstone which was waaaaay smokey.
The group favorite of the three drinks was the classic Old Fashioned. They made it with Four Roses Yellow Label Bourbon, simple syrup and two dashes of bitters. It was great. Not too sweet or overly bitter tasting, just enough to mellow out the drink. We’ve been making these a few times a week now.
I am by no means a baker or big on making desserts. It’s too much of a science for me. I’ll forget things in the oven. I’ll add too much or too little when measuring out ingredients. I’ll forget something crucial at the store. The list goes on and on and usually disaster ensues.
I personally think I prefer cooking meals over most desserts because it’s so much easier to fix mistakes and taste as you go. (Not that I haven’t indulged in a finger or spoonful of batter in the past… or present.) I would also rather drink my desserts rather than eat them, but in celebration of Valentine’s day -and the fact the boy is a fan of chocolate- I figured I would do some research into healthier dessert options.
These are ten dessert recipes that require no baking and I hope to try and attempt… eventually. (Aside from the truffle recipes. Those I just included because they’d make a good homemade VDay gift.)
This morning I did not want eggs. I wanted something sweet and bready so I decided to re-make one of those popular Pinterest recipes that are popping up everywhere. The infamous two-ingredient pancake. I’ve made them once before and you have to go in expecting more of a thin crepe texture and less of a fluffy pancake texture. I also found that the 2 egg:1 banana ingredient list was a little off for my taste- it was a bit more banana flavored than I wanted and a little too chewy.
This time I reduced the banana amount to half and it worked out much better. I also made a batch with ground oats (home made oat flour, I guess) and those were a little heartier. And, I made a batch with some PB2 because… peanut butter and banana – come on! I used the leftover banana half as a topping and drizzled with honey. Click below for the updated recipe and options.
While we didn’t get another snow day- the weather this morning was definitely cold enough for it. (29F– Brr!) So, it was time to make another big pot of soup. I hate the cold, but I love soup. Some days I feel like getting to warrant making soup is the only plus of the cold.
Vegetable Purees are one of those types of “soups” I make all the time. I guess they’re not really soups, but they are soup-like and make a good quick meal or side. They’re also so easy once you know the formula. Just sauté whatever allium you want -leek, onion, garlic. (comparison here) Add your primary vegetable and heat to soften. (preferably roast it first if it’s a root or hearty veggie, way more flavor that way) Use a 1/2 broth, 1/2 water ratio– just enough to cover your veggies. Add seasonings and/or herbs. Boil for a few minutes. Add a cream/thickening ingredient if you wish (greek yogurt, cream, milk, flour). Heat through. Puree. Done.
The weekends are usually my “splurge” times. I eat worse. I drink more. I indulge. This past weekend, I did all the above. The dinner I’ll share was at Uchi (probably the healthier of my weekend choices). It’s a contemporary Japanese restaurant, some people may remember it being mentioned during Top Chef: Season 11 when Paul -who trained at the Uchi in Austin- won. Anyways, it was amazing as always. We didn’t have a reservation, but weren’t in a rush. We went early-ish and hung around the bar for an hour to wait for the table. My only real qualm about this place is that there is no seating in the bar. If you can’t score a place at the limited bar top you have to stand in a line, elbow-to-elbow with your drink. I really think they should extend the bar area out more and shrink the sushi bar some. You have to make reservations pretty far in advance (around three weeks) and I am seriously considering making reservations monthly and if I can’t go I’ll just find someone else to take my reservation. We had the 5-piece sushi sampler, the 5-course tasting menu, and a few different samplings of sake. (more…)
A friend of mine who is a personal trainer got me interested in PB2. Let me start by saying that, for me, PB2 is not a substitute for your PB&J sandwich. It lacks the nutritional value of regular nut butters and just doesn’t taste as good on it’s own. But, it has been a great way to get peanut butter flavor in recipes without as many fats and calories. I’ve been playing around with it for about a month now and I think I’ve figured out how to best incorporate it in my cooking. I have used it in Thai Peanut Sauce, Chicken and Shrimp Satay, smoothies, cookies, and now fruit dip. PB2 is not very cheap at stores, so I would definitely recommend buying in bulk on Amazon if you decide you like it.
I love eggs. From my head down to my legs, I love eggs.
That’s actually not true, but it popped in my head when I started this post. Then I started looking for where that came from and found this. Not quite what I was looking for, but who can resist a dancing egg cartoon song?
Truth is, I only like eggs and rarely crave eggs, but the boy loves eggs. A few weekends ago we drove around for an hour looking for a place that was open for brunch, didn’t have a wait, served alcohol, and had a good old American breakfast plate. Turns out that doesn’t exist before 11am on the weekends. This means I am now cooking and eating more and more of them. He could eat a fried egg with whole wheat toast for breakfast daily, but I cannot. So I have to find new, faster ways to get them done in the mornings. Ala: egg white cups two ways– (more…)
I am a master at finding other things to do when it comes to household chores. I usually go for the typical procrastination toolbox involving browsing the web and pinning. I also watch YouTube like it’s a sport. read novels at lightning speed, and can plow through a series on Netflix like nobody’s business. (Three seasons of Walking Dead in like 5 days!) But this week in particular I have been so lazy. Going on four days without going to get dishwasher detergent with a very full and dirty dishwasher -and sink for that matter- lazy. I guess my mantra lately is “it will get done” when it really needs to be “just do it”. I think a new goal should be define specific days to get chores done.
There are a few routine goals that I try and accomplish. Replace the cat litter, wash the sheets, fluff and fold the laundry that has inevitably been wrinkling in the dryer for days. One of the tasks that I actually enjoy is further messing up the kitchen making a big batch of Quinoa “Fried Rice”. I’m a pasta and rice loving girl and quinoa is my healthful go-to “grain” swap. (Grain Nutrition Comparison Here) It’s so perfect to have as a light lunch, snack, or side through out the week. Fried rice is one of the foods that I’ve always enjoyed and seen as a sort of takeout comfort food. But, by making it at home with quinoa, the update much healthier. Kind of a takeout done light … at home, I guess? It also gives me the ability to use up nearly any and all leftover meats and veggies before they go bad. (Cleaning out the fridge is another one to add to the list of chores I don’t make enough of a priority.) (more…)
I went to Hugo’s with the boy last night. It’s pretty pricey, but it’s also right down the street so we splurge there more than we should. It’s a more upscale Mexican restaurant in this beautifully restored building from the twenties. They basically serve gourmet takes on Mexican inspired, regional cuisine. So, not your typical grease-filled TexMex cuisine. To start I had their Oaxacan margarita because – what’s Mexican food without a margarita. The Oaxacan margarita so smokey and light, definitely my favorite on the menu. In my opinion it’s even better than their $28 “Greatest” marg. For dinner I had a really good seafood stew full of veggies with fish and shrimp and octopus. Not sure how healthy it was, but it seemed light-ish. One thing I was surprised it didn’t come with was avocado or cilantro. Once those additions were made, it was perfect. I never get how people can eat Mexican without cilantro. It gives such a crisp flavor and adds complexity and coolness to spicy dishes (like the stew). It pretty much enhances everything.
People either love or hate cilantro. I read somewhere that it actually tastes different to different people. (Maybe this NYT article?) Personally, it’s one of my favorite herbs and I pretty much incorporate it into everything. I don’t think I could ever date or really even be good friends with someone who was a cilantro hater because we could never share food. (I also LOVE sharing food, or asking for “a bite”) Since we’re on the subject of things I love, I also love a good, quick salad. Just pick a type of greens, use up those leftover bits of veggies, throw on some shredded rotisserie chicken for good measure and you have an easy lunch or a light dinner. So, of course … BOOM– Salad+Sweet Cilantro Vinaigrette and I am in heaven. This doesn’t keep quite as well as some other vinaigrettes I’ve made and I’m not sure why. Maybe the cilantro eventually gets that bitter flavor, but once it starts to get a sour smell – throw it out. (more…)
Last Friday in Houston we had what I believe was our first freeze of the season. I woke up to heavy frost on the roofs, ice on the doorknob outside, and a newsfeed of icepocalyptic proportions. This, of course, constituted freeway closures and most people didn’t go into work or school. It may take a blizzard up north to constitute a snow day- but a little ice and some cold puddles means we will shut our city down.
By Sunday we were back in the 70s, the sun was shining, and I brunching on the patio at Canopy while watching their valet back into a car. (He literally backed right into another car that he had just parked barely three feet away from the patio full of patrons and then went to get another car like nothing happened. Brunch and a show!) Then later I enjoyed an ahhhmazing bacon Bloody Mary and played a pathetic game of corn-hole at BAC. I was hoping the warm, patio weather would stick around, but by Tuesday it was another “snow day.” So I decided to play around with making a healthy version of corn chowder to help me face this roller-coaster of polarvortexas we were experiencing.
My healthier rendition of corn chowder hit the spot AND I got to use the immersion blender I got for Christmas. (Dude– get one.) Definitely an easy, cheap meal that is low in calories (264), fat (0g – not a typo), carbs (3g), and sodium(406g). One that will make the weeknight dinner rounds again. (more…)